Polls open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday for the June 2 primary election to fill the vacant seat and remain open until 9 p.m. Candidates for federal, state and county offices will be on the ballot, but unlike the general election, only voters registered as either Democrats or Republicans will be able to vote.
Iowa has closed primaries, meaning only registered members of a party with candidates on the ballot can vote and those voters can only select from candidates of their own party. Only the Democratic Party and the Republican Party have full party status in Iowa, and only their candidates will be on Tuesday’s ballot. The Libertarian Party had candidates on the primary ballot in 2018 — it had qualified for full party status after its presidential candidate Gary Johnson received 3.8 percent of the vote in Iowa during the 2016 general election — but has since lost that status because so few people voted for its candidates.
Many voters in the state are registered as “No Party,” and they will not be able to vote in the primary, unless they re-register as a member of the party represented by candidates they want to support. Iowa has same-day voter registration, which not only allows first-time voters to sign up, but also permits already-registered voters to change their party affiliation.
To register at your polling place, you need a valid Iowa driver’s license or one of the following forms of identification:
• Iowa non-driver ID card
• Out-of-state driver’s license or non-driver ID card
• U.S. passport
• U.S. military ID
• ID card issued by employer
• Student ID issued by Iowa high school or college
• Tribal ID
If your photo ID doesn’t have your current address, you’ll need to bring one of the following proofs of residence:
• Residential lease
• Utility bill (including a cell phone bill)
• Bank statement
• Government check or other government document
Even if you don’t have an acceptable photo ID or proof of residence, you may still register to vote, provided a friend who is already registered to vote is willing to vouch for you. The ID-deficient person and the registered voter will both have to sign oaths, attesting to the identity and home address of the ID-deficient person.
Where to vote
Voters must cast their ballots at their designated polling place on Tuesday. The Johnson County Auditor’s Office has an online look-up tool for anyone uncertain of where to vote, and so does the Auditor’s Office in Linn County.
Even people who know their regular polling place may want to use the look-up tool before heading out to vote. Both Johnson and Linn have combined several voting precincts for the primary, reducing the number of polling place. This was done, in part, due to the overwhelming requests for absentee ballots from people trying to avoid potentially crowded locations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The voter-ID law passed by the Iowa legislature in 2017 is now in full effect. To vote in the primary, you will need to show one of the following types of ID.
• Iowa Voter Identification Card
• Iowa Driver’s License
• Iowa Non-Operator ID
• U.S. Military ID or Veteran ID
• U.S. Passport
• Tribal ID Card/Document
According to the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office, “A voter without one of the above forms of ID may have the voter’s identity attested to by another registered voter in the precinct or may prove identity and residence using Election Day Registration documents.”
If you are voting in a new precinct for the first time and haven’t changed your registration and your ID does not have your current address, you will need to provide one of the following documents to confirm your new address.
• Residential lease
• Utility bill, including a cell phone bill
• Bank statement
• Government check
• Other government document
• Property tax statement
Both the Linn and Johnson County auditor’s offices are taking special precautions due to COVID-19. Poll workers will be equipped with personal protective equipment — from face shields to gloves to shoe coverings — and there will be markers on the floor at the polling sites to help voters practice proper social distancing. Hand sanitizer will be available.
There’s also one small change that will leave anyone who goes to the polls on Tuesday with a souvenir from the era of pandemic voting.
“Normally, if you accidentally walk off with one of our pens, we run after you, because we need them,” Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert told Little Village last month. “But this time, you take the pen with you after you vote.”
“Instead of washing all those pens, the Secretary of State’s office has provided us money to just buy pens that people can walk out with.”